Friday, May 23, 2008

New Tires and Chain

Last night after my commute home, I finally worked up the courage to mount the new tires I received a few weeks ago. I usually dread putting road tires on the dt swiss rims because they can be extremely difficult. Last time, I had sore hands for 2 to 3 days afterwards. I procrastinated as long as possible before putting these on in anticipation of a frustrating one to two hour battle. The old rear tire was very near the end of it's life (I just put the darn thing on last month!) and I did not want to risk getting flats on the long ride tomorrow. So, out go the Continental GP4000 25c tires, which served me well and kept me from getting any flats throughout their entire life of service on my bike. Out go the generic tubes as well. Why dump perfectly fine tubes?? O, you shall find out soon enough!

The new tires I bought are 23c. They are also a different brand. I could not resist the hype around the Michelin ProRacer3(PR3). They are slightly lighter than my previous Continentals, and obviously a touch more narrow. At least, the specs say they are more narrow and lighter. The PR3 are supposed to be one of the fastest rolling clincher tires on the market, lightest with puncture protection, and reasonable lifespan. I'm sold. They were only a few dollars more than the Conti's.

Also, I decided to weightweenie my bike even more by switching to ultralight tubes. I've had the tubes for a few weeks now, sitting in their box, in my bicycle tool cage between the two bikes mounted on the wall. I glanced at them on numerous occasions and slight tremors of fear and trepidation would pass through my mind thinking about the likelihood of FLATS. I was scared they would blow up when first inflating, or at best, flat within minutes of the first ride. 55 grams they weigh. Vittoria EVO presta tubes. Thats less than half what my generic tubes weigh! They feel incredibly light in my hand. I also dumped the generic tube in my bag on the bike and replaced it with a 52 gram Lunar Light tube from Performance bike. The tube is nearly half the size of the generic so now I have a much more reasonable fit in the bag. No more stuffing things in and having them pop out when I unzip the bag to grab the chapstick! I dropped a half pound off my bike by just changing out the tubes! Add the tires in and we are talking 3/4 a pound!

Back to the mounting. I took a deep breath and started mounting the first bead. To my surprise, the first bead was very easy to get on. It's not loose, or anything, but I didn't have to work nearly as hard as I did with the previous GP4000. Is this a sign of things to come?? I put the tube in, and started putting the other bead on. Shockingly, I didn't have to fight at all! It went on in less than a minute and I didn't have to use a tire lever on the last bit. YES! Finally, a tire I don't have to be scared about if I get a flat out in the middle of nowhere.

Now, time to inflate the tube. Will it explode, or perhaps I pinch flatted it while mounting the tire? A few easy pumps. No gunshot yet. A few more. The tire is staying on. Ok, go for it. I pump the front tire up to 100psi, bracing for the inevitable ear-shattering BANG, but none to report. Maybe I'm in the clear! Still have to make it through the night...

So, I tackle the rear tire and it goes on just as easy as the front. Same with inflation.

I wipe the sweat that never came, and put the new Dura-Ace chain on. I just put the old one on last month! I need a chain and tire sponsor!!!!!!!!!

This morning the tires were not in shreds on the floor, and I didn't wake up to any loud explosion. I guess I'm safe, but still have to ride the bike for the final test.

I start to ride this morning to work, and, as usual with new tires, stuff was sticking to them like crazy. Nothing better than having NYC grime splattering on your frame and legs. I thought, at least the tires didn't explode yet. I made it all the way to work with no flat! I guess I'm in the clear. I'm still convinced I'll get some flats on my long ride tomorrow. Probably during the night when I'm in the middle of the Bronx.

The new tires feel noticeably faster than the GP4000. They are also significantly smaller. I could definitely feel the difference in the ride when I hit bumps. The front is slightly more jarring, but nothing terrible. But, the ride on the smooth pavement feels smoother and better. I guess the reviews I read are pretty accurate! Lighter, faster, smoother rolling, and about as close as you can get to a tubular tire. Not bad at all.

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